Room 15

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…room number 15. Just as we entered I heard a thump and the sound of footsteps hurrying away. Somewhere a door slammed.

“At least three of us can sit down here,” said one.

There were only three possible choices.

Leaning on the sacrificial tripod I was suddenly moved to say, “Perhaps these numbers relate to each other in some specific combination…” Immediately I regretted this act of charity…sometimes I think, after all these years, that I don’t really know myself.

One of them thought he had worked it out and, very pleased with himself, led us into…

 - Images and text copyright 1985 by Christopher Manson
used with permission. [Purchase MAZE from Amazon]


Room Type:  PATH     Doors:  3  4  30  37


● The correct door is 37. [Credit: Unknown - during the 1985 contest.]

● The part of the Riddle of the Path in this room is the hidden letter is “H” represented by the Heart, Hats, House, Hare, and Heroes.  [Credit: Unknown - prior to 1990.] The arrangement of the beams on the ceiling suggest the repeating letter “H”.  [Credit: 515]

● In the names of the heroes is the word SEVEN spelled from bottom up. The letters are lined up but some are partially or completely off the page. At the end of the SEVEN is three nails together they suggest 37, the correct door. [Credit: SP]

● The SVN is SeVeN with the vowels removed. By removing the vowels it is three letters. 3&7=37 [Independent Credit: SP | White Raven]

● The SVN is SeVeN with the vowels removed it is on Door 30. 30+7=37 [Independent Credit: Hello Gregor | White Raven]

● In the text a visitor says, “Three of us can sit down here” an odd statement since there are no available seats except the one taken by the bunny. This phrase directs our attention to the floor. There are three legs on the tripod and four on the chair, seven total. 3&7=37 [Credit: SP]

● The sign with the bird, cloud, moon, bolt indicates “things in the sky.” The star in the leg bracing of the tripod reinforces this, and possibly the smoke clouds coming from the house in the child’s drawing. The list of heroes uses a V instead of a U in the Roman/Greek tradition. The focus of these clues is the SVN sign encouraging us to take it (in this instance) as “sun.” The sunlight in the room shines on the 3 of 30 and the 7 of 37 3&7=37. The partially sunlit 3 is excluded by not being fully lit.  [Independent Credit: vewatkins | White Raven]

●  The text spells out the numbers “three” “one” and “three” which add up to 7. “At least THREE of us can sit down here,” said ONE. There were only THREE possible choices.” [Independent Credit: vewatkins | White Raven] The next sentence reads, “Leaning on the sacrificial TRIPOD I was suddenly moved to say,…”  Taking the tripod as another 3, by leaning the tripod the Guide completes the 37 prompting the Guide to drop the hint, “Perhaps these numbers relate to each other in some specific combination…” [Credit: White Raven]

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229 thoughts on “Room 15

  1. some of these solutions are bordering on the ridiculous and seem like overly contrived retrospective fitting onto the known solution. Isn’t there an official answer book or article by the author to sort out which of the clues actually were supposed to mean anything?

    I’m still laughing at the person who suggested that the apple tree in one of the previous rooms “was 2D hence supposed to be number 2″. You’re having a laugh, frankly.

    • Very little of the book has been addressed in any official capacity. What little information was released by the publisher related to the contest solutions, and besides the answers themselves it leaves a lot of the reasoning behind the solutions opaque. Hence, 30+ years of increasingly deranged speculation.

  2. I do think the sign with the bird, cloud, moon and thunderbolt is just meant to indicate “things in the sky.” We took a wrong turn by trying to read the shadows for answers.

    More simply, the door to 30 has “sun” (“svn” technically, but you get it) on it, and the tripod in front of it forms a star pattern with its crossbars at the specific angle we’re looking at it.

    Note also that the tripod’s crossbars are actually three Xs going around the legs–XXX, or 30. (In other words, X, X, and X, in a “specific combination,” relate to 30. Note that the Guide mentions the relationship between numbers while leaning on the tripod.)

  3. It’s been noted before that the numbers mentioned in the text sum to 7–that fact can be read in various ways regarding this room.

    Interestingly, though, if we take that as an invitation to compare with Room 7 (which is a bit of a leap, I acknowledge) we find a couple of interesting things:

    1) The placement of the poster with names of heroes, pinned to the wall and slightly blowing (curling?) up at the bottom, corresponds to the placement of the poster in 7, which is pinned to the wall and blowing or curling up at the bottom

    2) The placement of the crudely drawn house in 15 corresponds to the placement of the crudely drawn face in 7

  4. Bird, Cloud, Moon, Lightning: BC ML, 1050 BC, the beginning of the Greek Dark Ages. G+D+A=12. 12=L. In Greek, L is Lambda, which in Greek has a number value of 30 and is the 11th letter. 30=D and 11=K. D also equals 4, and 4+11=15 which is the room we’re in so we know we’re on the right track. 15=O and O

  5. “Perhaps these numbers relate to each other in some specific combination…”

    I always took this as a reference to the door numbers. The unmarked door leads from Room 4, which we should know if we’re on the right path, having just come from there. The numbers can then be arranged into an equation reading: 3+4+30 =37.

    I apologize if this has been brought up previously. I didn’t see it in the comments, but I admit to skimming here and there. :)

  6. The narration text seems contain a lot of references to the number three, possibly an attempt to get those who do not analyze things carefully to take the wrong door and go to Room 3 in the Loop.

  7. I noticed that the picture of the house hides an arrow pointing to the middle “bubble”, which of course, represents the middle door.

    See image (copy and paste and delete spaces):
    i.imgur .com/ kiDiZtM.jpg

    • Yeah, except an integral part of the the arrow: the shaft; isn’t there. You made it up in your pic.

    • The shaft is not an integral part to indicate the target. Also, if you’re not familiar with what passes for arrow/number tracing around here, this is relatively sober in comparison.

    • well you used the word “arrow”. and you can’t have an arrow without a shaft. But i do agree with you about the liberality of acceptance around here. But i still don’t like your solution, as much as I’d like to. You’re better than that, SP. That’s more on VW’s level :p

    • Semantics. I could have used the word “pointer” and the solution would remain the same. The pointer is clearly not a “greater than” or “lesser than” sign, also, the roof is thicker than the rest of the house, giving it an emphasis.

      If you don’t like this solution, how would you interpret the picture of the house and bubbles, Kon-Tiki?

    • It’s no good to reply to criticism of one solution with “What’s your better solution?” A bad solution isn’t inherently better than no solution, and you don’t need a different solution to notice a solution is bad. Kon-tiki’s criticism seems well-made–if every time that two lines meet we have an arrow, then I think you’re going to a find a lot of troublesome arrows pointing all over everything in the book. He was correct to suggest that this was about as bad as my suggestion that the roof is a 7!

      Additionally, while the cloud it points to could be describable as the middle cloud, vertically speaking, it could also be described is the leftmost cloud, horizontally speaking–and the doors are arranged horizontally.

    • You’re right, prompting for a better solution doesn’t make mine any better, but so far no one’s come up with a decent solution to the house picture, so at very least it should get people’s gears going.

      Regarding “if you counted all pointers” remark…
      Can you give an example of a concealed pointer pointing to a wrong door?

      There is a small triangle piece of plaster in Room 2, that is upright, under 29 (directionally upward, either toward 29, or the boat).

      In room 13 the concealed pointer in the sun dial points to 25.

      Room 1 has a concealed FULL arrow that points to 20, however this could arguable also be pointing to the second stroke in the character above it, a three pronged symbol, so this could go both ways.

      The arrow in 20? Well let’s see..the pointy end is not visible!

      Room 3. The arrow/pointer points to the correct door.

      Room 41. I know, I know, the arrow points to 35. But I could argue because it’s part of a sign, it has to explicitly show what the sign’s direction is. This is not really a clue.

      There are many more by the way.

    • What about the arrow on the easel in room 1 pointing up to door 20. By the way, It took me less than 5 seconds of random searching to find an example.

    • Did you read my post? I cover that. It points to the second bar (second door is correct). Either way 20 is the second best door to pick and you are still on the Path, even though it’s not the shortest way.

    • Haha, the fact that you found it first doesn’t mean it doesn’t do the job!

      But that’s not even what I mean. I’m talking about just taking any joining of lines to be an arrow, because that’s what you did in 15. I’m saying you can do that anywhere to point at wrong doors.

    • SP give me a break, i can find a hundred more. What about the devil’s tail making an arrow in 26 pointing to the wrong door. By the way, your explanation for room one’s exception doesn’t cut it.

    • and what bout all those potential “arrows” in room 7 at the right angles of all those picture frames? they’re pointing everywhere ;)

    • The devil tails are also explainable. In my cases, pointers are good, but in this room, because they are devil-associated pointers, they are bad. Room 26 is one of the places where the reverse is true, because the odd man in principle applies, which has been approved by most people on this site..

      “and what bout all those potential “arrows” in room 7″

      Except that picture frames are pictures frames. That’s what their function is. They are not pictures of something , or an object which is an arrow, like my examples of 3 and even 8 (which has its point HIDDEN by the way, which still conforms to my theory)

    • Room 8?! what about the arrow there or even the umbrella? Please don’t bother answering :p I give up after this.

    • No, I feel compelled to spell this out for you, but what I can’t do is make you read my posts, because I JUST explained 8. I said the pointy part of the arrow is hidden. Why would you follow something that isn’t visible? Same thing applies to the tip of the umbrella in 8, it’s not visible, therefore why would you follow it…

      It’s already been somewhat excepted that stuff inside images could be hidden numbers or other things. The stethescope in the picture in room 8 is reminiscent of a 2. You can’t argue that there are hidden things in the pictures in rooms.

      Its not like im using arbitrary examples, I’m sticking to either pictures of things with arrows hidden in them, or actual arrows, or things that point explicitly to doors, like the umbrella and baton in 10. Corners of objects are NOT arrows or pointers.

    • So, just to be clear, the theory is that everything that points at a door, or at a thing that can be associated with a door, that is a clue that we should take that door, unless it’s a clue that we shouldn’t take that door, or there are too many of them pointing at doors, or they’re something stupid like the corner of a picture (as distinguished from the roof of a house inclined toward a cloud), and also if the tip of an arrow is missing it can’t be trusted. We’re all ok with those parameters, right?

    • SP, i’m not buying any of the wares you’re peddling, but just for fun: let’s see you talk your way out of the pointers in room 30. Or am i missing an old post again? maybe there’s a pixel missing from their tips??

    • Hahaha! I could try and keep justifying stuff but you’re right this is way too broad, I stepped over the cliff saying it’s applicable to all the rooms, and VW’s comment that the bubbles could be left right rather than top middle bottom (if we’re looking at it from Y axis instead of X), but this is kind of weak because the bubbles are going upward and are equidistant. I’m sure Manson is laughing his *** off seeing how off I, and probably others, really are from what he intended.

    • Forgetting for a moment the larger discussion and just focusing on the poster in this room:

      The roof is drawn in a way that draws attention to it. The close-set darker lines makes it visually pop more than the rest of the poster.

      > It could be a 7 and the clouds represent a 3 but this seems weak.

      > sp makes a good point, the roof wedge (the pointing symbol the roof makes is known as a wedge) does point directly to the largest cloud.

      > Vewatkin makes a good point as well, is the cloud second from the top or first from the left?

      But my gut tells me there is something to this line of thinking.

    • I guess what sold it for me was that the bubbles are equidistant on the Y-axis, the roof/chevron/pointer would not be able to point out the middle bubble unless they were slightly off kilter the way they are. Also, if it wasn’t related to picking one of the viable doors, why not put 4 bubbles? or 5? Why put bubbles at all?

      When I asked Kon-Tiki to “find a better one” I didn’t mean it in a butt-hurt way, I am genuinely interested in what else it could be. For example, it could be a red herring to pick room 3 because of the number of bubbles, but then everything else is 3-related in this room too. The thing is, overtly everything points to 3, but under the hood 7 is revealed. I think this principle applies to the poster of the house as much in the same way the subtle shadowing out of the numbers on the other signs, leaving 37 unshadowed. If I still haven’t convinced anyone I’ll lay this dead cow to rest. Don’t worry you’re still my boy Kon-Tiki!

  8. this doesn’t seem to be mentioned yet, but there are 7 things in this room that start with H.

    1. house
    2. hare
    3. heart
    4. hat
    5. hat
    6. helmet
    7. heroes

  9. In the tripod you can make 1 or a 7 but not any other numbers which look good. The 7 looks really really good. With the tripod that is 37. This room is 5 stars but I actually think I could be right about this one. Yes?

    • LoMoody,

      Using the rungs of the tripod it is possible to make a 1, 2, and 7 that are reasonably good. The 1 however is just a vertical line so do we dismiss it? The 2 looks pretty good but an actual 2 is a curved and the version made of rungs is angular, do we dismiss it for being angular? The 7 is just a clear 7.

      Is this a good solution? I’m not certain, if the Abyssians would be willing to view the related images for this page and weigh in I would appreciate it.

      White Raven

    • To me the 1, 2, 3, 4, and 7 are pretty decent.

      What’s up with the house shape, WR? ;)

    • The “house” is just a really crappy zero. It looks ever so slightly more zero like than just a square.

    • Oops, I wasn’t picking up the context there. I was talking about the roof on the drawing of the house on the left wall.

    • Oh OK. I was reading into it b/c I had been trying out a house shape a guide symbol. Didn’t really think you’d drop such a big hint though. :)

      I think vw is right about the roof in the house pic being a pretty good 7, though — and the house is deliberately skewed — that could be the reason.

  10. ● In the text a visitor says, “Three of us can sit down here” an odd statement since there are no available seats except the one taken by the bunny. This phrase directs our attention to the floor. There are three legs on the tripod and four on the chair, seven total. 3&7=37 [Credit: SP]

    The other way to read this is adding 3 legs of the tripod to the 7 on the chair (3 visible rabbit legs, 4 visible chair legs)

  11. Reference Room 15 & 12 & 28:

    The list of Greek Heroes is missing Alexander the Great. The room emphasizes “over your head”….hats, helmet, sun, gridded roof, puff balls, things in the sky. The elusive helmet is metal interacting with Alexander interacting with Alexander Dumas’ (ref rooms 12&18)’ “The Man in the Iron Mask.”

    • The man in the iron mask is the good “twin” the evil “twin” put his twin brother in the mask…falls into my dual persona theme. This good bad brother could explain the “cane” in MAZE as Cain & Abel.

  12. This room is called out by number in the text, “room 15” and this seems to happen in rooms where minor calculations of some sort are required, as they are in this room. The only possible significance for the room number itself that I see is that 7+H(8)=15. That is the alphanumeric value (8) of the important clue in this room, “H”, added to another major clue, 7, yields the room number 15.

  13. Perhaps the Guide leaning on the sacrificial tripod/tower antenna was acting as an oracle by giving his opinion to the visitors was, “moved to an act of charity” –out of his character- due to the interference of the “sunspot” that can be seen under the tripod antenna. We have direct sun pouring into this room and sunspots interfere with UHV & VHF waves being picked up by the tripod tower antenna and the rabbit ear antenna. That shadow is very obvious in the room and should be taken seriously.

    The U & V are interchangeable here so the V in the sign on Door 30 “SVN” is interchangeable and could read SUN/SeVeN (already mentioned). The sacrificial tripod could then be interchangeable with an antenna tower. The shadow under the tripod could be interchangeable with a sunspot. Double meanings going on here?

    • Here’s the thing with the antenna – in room 45 you take things that are located in physical groups to build words, but you don’t grab random things anywhere in the room. Most here think that 45 was pretty much impossibly hard as it is, and no one ever would have gotten it without publisher hints. Personally I think there are other rooms that work like 45 – but I’ve yet to hear anyone say they agree, and Manson’s statement when I asked along those lines was positive but ambiguous. So my “room solutions” don’t have a wide following, but they are procedural – they proceed much like room 45. For “antenna” you are grabbing things from two different parts of the room. The sacrificial Tripod is not obviously an antenna – and the bunny, while it has ears, is not portrayed in anyway to show us that that might be an important feature. If I saw just the bunny and the Tripod in group I don’t even think I’d go there – my first thought would be hassepfeffer I think. Maybe Easter? You know – Easter bunny, sacrifice of Christ, all that. In any case, I think if you are free to grab from any part of the room, rather than a nearly impossible puzzle what you get is “MAZE scrabble” – just like in scrabble you take random elements and try to build something meaningful – but you don’t find something someone intentionally placed. To stay with the analogy – think if someone gave you 4 separate scrabble trays, and each could be used to build a word using all 7 letters, and when you were done, all 4 trays made words with some theme – and you knew someone had set it up as a puzzle in the first place – then you might have some confidence you found what they intended you to find.

      I don’t want to be too discouraging though – because I think you’ve hit on a couple things now, and even wrong ideas sometimes start other people thinking in new ways.

    • Every 3 has a way to make a 7.
      Tons of 3s in the room and the Maze standard false open door to 3 is here, but I think every 3 has a way to make a 7. My page is inexact in the pairings. This is more exact:

      3 feet of tripod / 7 total feet on floor.
      3 visible feet on rabbit / 4 total feet.
      3 tacks one poster / 4 tacks other poster.
      The shape under the tripod is a triagular prism made ot 3 and 4 sides shapes.
      3 puffs of smoke / 4 rectangular elements to house. SVN is seven but has 3 letters.
      Even the sign above 3 is across from door 4. The lit 3 in 30 and the lit 7 in 37 go together.
      3 beams in roof / 4 sets of windows
      The 3s in the text add up 3,1,3.
      The bunny group has 3 elements but the sky group has 4.
      3 knobs / 4 doors.
      3 hats – 1 of them points at 7. (or 2 hats, 1 on a tripod one pointing at 7).
      The fact the SVN is on the 30 door is not a pair, but clearly intentional as well I think.

    • I’ve been more vocal on the webcast than here, maybe, but I also suspect there are puzzles similar to 45 elsewhere, that may be similarly unsolvable. Where I differ is 1) I assume that 45 was unusually difficult, so that solutions that are even more tangential or far-fetched are probably not correct, and 2) I don’t think this business of grouping objects and then picking word through some metaphorical extension of an imagined common element is anything like 45. 45 is essentially all about wordplay, and it’s easy to see how you move backwards from the Riddle of the Maze to the clues in the room; what makes it basically impossible are several factors, including that there is no consistent basis for the combination of objects, there are multiple plausible ways to interpret the objects, and the desired answer isn’t worded so elegantly that we’d be inclined to assume it was correct even if we stumbled upon it. But even so, the means by which, say, HOUSE becomes SHOE + U, becomes a shoe and a horseshoe, follows a pretty rational thought process. Manson simply overestimated how plausible it would be to reverse this process.

      But using a list of Greco-Roman heroes and a helmet to suggest a firefighter is not like that, neither in the mechanics of how the puzzle works nor in how rational it seems in either direction. Whereas 45 makes sense moving from words to clues, every step in your Helios/firefighter solution seems crazy both from the perspective of a puzzlemaker going forward and a puzzlesolver moving backward.

    • V W: Let’s try some bits forwards and then I’ll work on backwards. What else would you suggest the list of Greeks be labelled? “Greco-Romans” maybe. But I think the fact that they are Heroes is fairly evident. And a very solid identification once one knows about the “H” theme in the room. And is there a better way to describe the helmet than helmet? Again we have the H. It fits with a group to make 3 hats, but by itself I don’t think we’d call it a hat. It is a helmet. Now if we were playing some sort of guessing game and we put out the clues “helmet” and “heroes” I think solders (marines?) and firefighters would be top of the list, I really can’t think of any other good answers. I mean at first glance “Greek stuff” might work, but not once you’ve got heroes and helmets.

      Now why in the world would we assume that we are supposed to put Heroes and Helmet together to clue something different? I certainly would not naturally. But then in 45 why are we supposed to know to put the objects on the table together to get “will”? It’s not too clear there. Manson apparently thought that with enough time people would figure out the method of putting objects in groups together. As you say he may have underestimated the challenges involved. But that then becomes the hypothesis to be tested – if you try the method in other rooms – does it work? I say it does.

      Going from puzzle design down. I think that his big scale things had to come first and he filled in details. I think the Tree of life was just used for inspiration to help him generate ideas. That theme would mean this room should feature light from above and an animal. And since the riddle of the MAZE came through here he knew he wanted at least a letter here. We can’t tell if he already knew what numbers would be on the doors or if the doors came first and he thought of the 4/3 puzzles to fit. One way or another he decided to do lots of 3s but make them all fit with sevens. We know he put a different titan in a different room – Atlas in 26. Now – I have no clue in what order all of the above were involved or if some of them came after the Helios idea, but at some point he must have decided to use Helios and his 7 rayed hat as a clue to 7 and make the room theme about that. There would be smaller puzzles of the 3/4 variety, but getting to Helios would be the starting point for the design. The smaller puzzles would be in the details.

      How to clue Helios? “SUN” “APOLLO” “burning hat” “Hair” “fire”. With some knowledge of Greek mythology or a good reference librarian or Google, those 5 clues should be enough to give you Helios and his 7 sun-rayed headgear. Those seem sufficient. I think a reasonable puzzle could expect people to get that.

      Now comes the part that makes these puzzles almost intractable. Manson designed clues for the clues. “APOLLO” is not spelled out but we have to put together the fact that the guide is telling the truth, the “know thyself” and the tripod to get the Oracle at Delphi. And we are left puzzling about the hat.

      Does he simply draw a picture of “hair” nope – he gives us 3 clues to get the clue “hair” – “Hare”, “Hat” and “Chair”. Now if the whole puzzle was to get “hair” is that unreasonable? I really don’t think so. Why the puzzle maker would pick hare is obvious. Why chair? Well to get us off identifying it as a bunny or rabbit perhaps. Why the hat? Just one more hair connected item and an “H”, and he may have already known he was using one or more of the other hats, probably the fire hat for sure. I think that if we knew those were 3 visual clues to one concept it is reasonable to expect someone to guess “hair”.
      What about fire? Well first of all it is not that hidden in one clue, that hat is about to get torched. But if we wanted to pick clues for “fire” are firefighter and smoke good clues? Yes they are great clues. What else could a puzzle maker intend if he gave us those two things but “fire”?
      But does he give us “smoke” and “firefighter”? Nope – again he gives clues to the clues. And if I wanted to clue firefighter? I think heroes and helmet are darn good clues. Maybe a hose and a ladder, but he wants us first thinking about Greek soldiers in that one I think.
      How to clue smoke? Well first draw a picture of smoke, that is a good start. But how to tell people that it is the smoke part of the picture and not the whole house that matters? Well, have the other clue be “objects in the sky”. Put those together and you have sufficient clues for “smoke”.
      So, really – I think each individual puzzle is quite reasonable and not even very hard. But the whole thing taken together – to write clues for answers that form clues to a next puzzle, etc… – AND to not even tell you that that is the method you are supposed to use? Yes, that is unreasonable to expect people to solve in less than a generation, anyway. And as we’ve noted, no one did without help. But with 45 once the solution is known it gives a strong methodological hint. And, once you have that, I don’t think the puzzles are impossible anymore, just very hard.

    • Slight expansion on above: If he is cluing us to “hair”. “Hare” comes first. Then “chair” to get us off rabbit and bunny, but then we need the hat so that we know it is “hair” and not “hare” that is intended.

    • New 3/4 detail – partly as a note to self. The one hat points at the 7 but the other hat points at the missing 4.

    • For the THREE, ONE, THREE, tripod in the text – I might go with 3, 1, 3 are 3 numbers that sum to 7 instead. Partly a matter of taste, however.


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